Author: Lizzie K. Foley
Year published: 2012
Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers, Penguin Group
Number of pages: 325
Recommended age: 8+
Child Rating: ★★★★★
Child Rating: ★★★★★
Grown-up Rating: ★★★★★
Grown-up Rating: ★★★★★
Reviewed by: Renee and Danielle (Mother and Daughter)
Summary (from the back cover): In the mountain town of Remarkable, everyone is extraordinarily talented, extraordinarily gifted, or just plain extraordinary. Everyone, that is, except Jane Doe, the most average ten-year-old who ever lived and the only student not admitted to Remarkable’s School for the Remarkably Gifted. But everything changes when the mischievous, downright criminal Grimlet twins enroll in Jane’s school and a strange sweet-toothed pirate captain appears in town.
Thus begins a series of adventures that put some of Remarkable’s most infamous inhabitants and their long-held secrets in danger. It’s up to Jane, in her own modest style, to come to the rescue and prove that she, too, is capable of some rather exceptional things.
What it’s about: This book is about a town named Remarkable where everybody in town is positively remarkable, except Jane. Jane is a ten-year old girl who is completely unremarkable and nobody really notices her.
What I liked and disliked about it: I liked that some people weren’t really who they were and they were actually somebody else. That made the story more interesting. I liked the Lake Monster named Lucky because she was cute and it was cool that only some people could see her. I wouldn’t like to be in Jane’s family because everybody was always too busy and they all pretty much ignore her.
Even if it was a long book, it was not too hard to read it. I didn’t like that Jane’s Grandpa had to go to jail – that part of the story made me sad.
My bottom line: I loved, loved, loved this book. I think girls and boys my age and older would also love, love, love this book.
What it’s about: This story centres around the experience of a ten-year old girl, Jane, who feels she is completely unremarkable compared to the rest of her community where everyone is extraordinary in some way. In fact, she is the only child in school not enrolled in the school for gifted children until the Grimlet twins (the town hoodlums) are expelled and must now also attend the regular public school with Jane. Jane’s life, as well as everyone else’s in Remarkable, is about to be turned upside down when pirates and lake monsters collide with the remarkable citizens of Remarkable. It will be up to Jane and her equally unremarkable Grandfather to save the day!
What I liked and disliked about it: I knew once I read the preface to the book, that I was going to really enjoy reading it. In fact, I would say that the preface is necessary in setting the tone for the book: wry, quirky, and whimsical. Foley’s descriptions of the people in Remarkable, their inner thought processes, and the dialogue between characters had me laughing out loud.
Outside of Jane who is largely ordinary, each of the characters is so over-the-top outrageous but Foley describes them in such a way that you can imagine the people in your life having those same characteristics in real life – only in this book, it would multiplied by 100. For example, her busy architect Mom writes family-related action items as reminders to herself: Action Item #27: Demonstrate interest in Jane’s life by asking her about school.
Even the way that the characters boast about their remarkableness is hilarious. Here is Jane’s Dad offering to drive the parrot to Grandmama’s house: “I could take a little break as a reward for all of the brilliant writing I’ve been doing on my novel today.” They all talk in a similar way and talk down to Jane: Jane’s sister Penelope Hope to Jane: “Maybe…you could convince Mom and Dad that you’re gifted at being unremarkable. Maybe they’d let you go to the gifted school then.”
But the real beauty of the book is watching the debacles of the “remarkable” citizens of Remarkable and seeing the triumph of the ordinary citizens, Jane and her Grandfather. You’ll find yourself shaking your head and rolling your eyes at the “remarkables” and rooting for Jane and her Grandfather throughout.
My bottom line: This book was such a delight to read – loved it. It is aimed at 8+ (I believe). My daughter read it just after she turned 9 and really enjoyed it. It is quite lengthy and challenging for an 8/9 year old but such a great read!
** Remarkable by L. Foley was provided to us free-of-charge by the author through the Goodreads, First Reads program. **
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